It is often said that Bollywood is India’s greatest brand ambassador all over the globe perhaps even giving the Taj Mahal a run for its money. However, South Korea has been largely left untouched by Bollywood thus far. This is likely to chage in the coming years.
Many Indians viewing the South Korea-filmed Gangster were enthralled by the exotic locales and jazzy trains that looked far different from anything Bollywood had used as a backdrop in the past. This was the first Bollywood movie that was filmed in Korea – it was also the last.
Last week I had an engaging discussion with Charm Lee, head of the South Korean Tourism Organization, and five of my colleagues. Lee, a tall, well-built German who now calls South Korea home, seemed taken aback by the number of Bollywood questions I presented him with. He conceded that the South Korean government was seriously considering the possibility of promoting Korea as a film shooting destination, though the West and even Southeast Asian countries had a clear lead over South Korea in the contest.
China too is already known to have started work on developing an entire island as a film shooting hub, something Lee asked his advisors to take note of. Lee also conceded that a major issue plaguing the effort was the acute shortage of hotel rooms in Korea, which limited its ability to attract big functions like Bollywood’s IIFA awards that are usually held in Macau.
Brand Bollywood’s penetration of the South Korean market is an idea whose time has come. Films like Krissh, Kal Ho Na Ho, Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge and Rang De Basanti have earned millions of dollars from overseas markets, and among Bollywood films are already catching on among the PSY-crazed South Korean youth, who know Bollywood actors like Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan and Aamir Khan quite well.